On Saturdays I look after the boys by myself while Rob’s at work. We are like ships in the night, passing each other by as single parents through the week. His shift is the days I’m at work, and then we swap over while Rob works. It means that we’re sometime limited as to what we can do with the boys. For example, we can’t go swimming, and we might choose to not attend events where the boys’ interests would be split. But it is what it is, and we just get on with it. There is a luxury in doing things together as a family, even as simple as food shopping together, because you don’t have to second guess, and there is one parent per child if need be.
Why parenting alone is bad for the health of your child
My tongue is firmly in my cheek, there, of course.
Last Saturday I took the boys to the beach. I couldn’t find the wellies in my car or the house, and so we drove to Rob’s work to check his car, but still couldn’t spot them. Rob’s work is sort of near the coast so I left the car there and we walked there with the bucket and fishing net in the basket under the seat of the pushchair. James scooted most of the way, on his Christmas-present scooter, which was really good because he’s not had much confidence to manage such a long scoot before.
We arrived at the beach, ready to check out some rock pools, but where we popped out from between the houses at the promenade, we were closer to the sand than the rocks. No matter, it was easier to go down the ramp with the pushchair than any steps.
Read about the wonderful beaches we have near to Newcastle upon Tyne
I folded the pushchair up, and tucked the scooter under my arm. James had the fishing net, and eagerly approached the first giant sea-puddle he saw.
Noah skipped up next to him, and watched James swoosh the net from left to right. And at this point, for some reason, he toppled forwards and fell in the sea-puddle.
He was soaked through. His little soft toy cow Moo was sodden. Every item of clothing he had on was wet. He staggered over to me crying and I led him to the edge of the sand and onto the concrete. I didn’t want to be wet too; there’s no benefit in us both being wet, so I’m sad to report he didn’t get a cuddle until I’d stripped him off and wiped his snotty, teary face.
James, meanwhile, was shouting and skipping about on the beach, so happy to be at the beach and swooshing his net through the air. He hadn’t noticed Noah fall in, or if he had, it just hadn’t registered in his 4-year-old brain as a problem. He came over to me when I called, and saw me about to pop my coat on Noah. “That’s too big for Noah!” he opined. I told him Noah had fallen in the water, but he wasn’t listening, and asked if we were ready to go back to the sea. When I said instead that we had to go back to the car he was devastated. He couldn’t see why we needed to leave. I pointed out his brother had no clothes on underneath my coat; but he thought Noah would be warm enough.
So, we started our slow return to the car. It had taken us about 30 minutes to go 0.7 miles (I’ve checked on Google Maps) on the way there, and James was beyond reluctant to leave the seaside. The return journey took nearly an hour! Poor freezing cold Noah! I just couldn’t persuade James to walk at all. I tried piggy backs, and promises of sweets, and when you see that even bribes aren’t even working what can you do as a parent on your own?!
So the moral of the story? Don’t go to the sea with little children alone? No, we’ve managed that many times before. I guess the message is that we just do the best we can do, and get on with it. We’re all struggling, we’re all human, and we can only do what we can do. In this case it was walk really slowly and try not to drive myself insane by asking James to hurry along 50 times a minute. And wish that it was a day when we were out as a family and not all by myself!
Read 8 ideas for FREE days out with a toddler
When we got back to the car, James hopped right into his car seat and started reading his story, as though nothing had been a problem. When we got home we all enjoyed a lovely mug of chocolate milk and snuggling up watching a LEGO movie.
Peaks and troughs, this parenting lark; peaks and troughs.